by Hailey Waller

Good knife skills mean good life skills? Who knew! For their leadership project, seniors Ally Van Deuren, Arjun Bedi, Nadeem Khulusi, and Areille Levine invited Chadwick alumna and Food Network chef Aida Mollenkamp to cook with Chadwick students on Wednesday, April 20.
Aida Mollenkamp has worked with Ernst and Young Hotel and Restaurant Consulting, received a Grand Diplome from Le Codon Bleu Culinary Academy, lived in Florence, Italy and Paris France, and currently resides in San Francisco.
Eager to educate her classmates about the importance of proper nutrition for his final project in Ms. Stern’s Leadership class, Nadeem Khulusi said, “ My group and I sat down and discussed what interested us.” The four seniors decided to organize a seminar on good nutrition habits.
With help from Mrs. Lucier in the Alumni Office, they contacted Aida. After the groups extensive planning, announcements at assembly, Facebook notifications, and posters anticipating Aida’s appearance, their big day finally arrived.
In Laverty, Aida explained that eating mindfully benefits everyone. Many people don’t realize that America is at a crazy nutritional paradox. While obesity is all the chatter, on the opposite end of the spectrum one in ten kids goes hungry every day.
Today, 15% of Americans don’t have access to normal food.  Still, the average American wastes a pound of food a day. That’s 27% of their food and enough food to fill the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to the brim on a daily basis. The average American eats too much processed food and excess amounts of salt, sugar and fat.  Aida shared her ten secrets to success:
1.  Shop on the perimeter of the market. The whole foods are usually refrigerated on the outer walls. Don’t get lost in the inner isles of doom and processed food!
2. Eat locally. Our average meal travels 1300 miles to simply get to us. What a waste of gas!
3. Eat organic. You are not only what you eat. You are what your food eats. Stay away from cows that are fed antibiotics.
4.  Use meat as a condiment. That means spare yourself the whole chicken and shred a few ounces up and throw it in a taco.
5. Taste the rainbow. Not the skittles rainbow, the real rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables! Get white off your plate!
6. Eat mindfully, not on the go. Sit down, be conscious of what you are putting in your mouth. Twenty percent of Americans eat in the car. Sit at the table.
7. Don’t drink calories. Drink water. And then drink more water.
8. Try to eat only ingredients you can pronounce. If you don’t know where it came from, be suspicious.
9. Family meals are of the utmost importance important.
10. Vote with your fork. Think a little more before you eat what’s on your plate.
In the amphitheater, students munched on fresh samples of strawberries, cucumbers, and ripe tomatoes donated by local farmers. The hungry high schoolers also  chowed down on an assortment of hors d’oeuvres: pasta shells, burrito bites, chips and chutney, and mint brownies.
Meanwhile, Chadwick’s own top chefs Marci Hall and senior Larry Feygin whipped up some simple salad dressing and raspberry whipped cream dessert with dark chocolate flakes.
On the other table, Aida demonstrated her simple pasta salad with a homemade vinaigrette. Her secret is four parts fat to one part acid. She used oil and vinegar, but lemon juice could be substituted. Aida added spinach leaves, mozzarella, olives, and a dash of salt and pepper to cooled pasta shells for a delicious twist on an incredibly healthy salad.
Aida’s smooshed sandwich turned out to be crowd favorite as well. Junior Hank Trumbull was so big on Aida’s meat and avocado delight that he leapt out of his seat and snatched the sandwich right off of Aida’s table.
The famous smooshed sandwich consisted of fresh Bristol Farms whole grain bread, sliced avocado, juicy tomato, prosciutto, and oregano for flavor. Half the time sandwiches get smooshed on the way to school anyway, so why not embrace the smoosh?
Essentially, any ingredients will do. Aida’s secret is in her smooshing technique. She recommends wrapping the sandwich in foil and leaving your ten-pound backpack on the sandwich, or even sitting on it to make sure it gets as smooshed as possible. She swears it tastes better that way!